Whenever I hear the name Carl Crawford I think of this guy:
Over at the Pinstriped Bible, the young perfessor, Steve Goldman examines the debate Carl Crawford/Brett Gardner debate:
Earlier this season, at about the moment Gardner got hurt, I asked if his performance had rendered the Yankees’ presumed pursuit of soon-to-be free agent Carl Crawford unnecessary. At that time, Gardner had outperformed the veteran; Crawford was hitting .310/.373/.488 when Gardner got hurt. His superior extra-base abilities didn’t quite close the gap created by Gardner’s greater patience, while his four-steal advantage came at the cost of three additional caught stealing.
Since Gardner’s wrist was damaged, Crawford has had the advantage on Gardner, though not quite as decisively as you might think. In 50 games from July 1 to present, he has hit .276/.310/.458 with 13 steals and one caught stealing. Crawford still hits with more authority than Gardner—almost everyone does—but his aggression has, at least in this phase of his career, made him below-average at getting on base. You might think that this urge to swing might be a consequence of his recent move to the third spot in the order, down from his traditional number two, but Crawford’s career OBP is only .336, which is about league-average for 2002-2010, the years of his career (the league OBP is .329 this season).
By most measures, Crawford is having his best season this year, but only by a little bit. With the exception of his 2008 injury season, he’s been very consistent since coming into his full powers in 2005. His overall rates for that span are .301/.345/.459, and this year’s total performance is virtually indistinguishable from those other seasons. That is one huge advantage that he has over Gardner: a buyer knows what he’s going to get. All we know of Gardner is that he had a nice three months, a bad two months, and currently has a nice little five-game hitting streak going (7-for-16) that may or may not augur a return to his earlier form.